Stuck like glue. Tied at the hip. Such cliches are somewhat true for Emily Padgett and Erin Davie, stars of Broadway's "Side Show" revival, which opened last week at the St. James Theatre.
The musical is inspired by real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, whose mother sold them as babies to a carnival side show. Daisy (Padgett) is flirty, with dreams of Hollywood; romantic Violet (Davie) yearns for a simpler life. Newsday contributor Joseph V. Amodio sat down with them backstage. Both are blond and Southern -- Tennessee (Davie), North Carolina (Padgett) -- with Broadway credits on the resumé -- "Grey Gardens," "Drood," "A Little Night Music" (Davie); "Rock of Ages," "Legally Blonde," "Grease" (Padgett). From there ... all similarities cease.
Onstage, your costumes hold you together but ... how did you rehearse?
Davie: We were literally tied together -- we had like a corset around our waists. We were in that for hours. Sometimes, you go, "Uhh, I have to go to the bathroom." [Davie leans one way.]
Padgett: Or "My water's over here." [Padgett leans the other.] But you get used to it pretty quickly. We don't really think about it anymore.
This show must challenge you in unusual ways.
Davie: You learn a lot about yourself ... your quirks.
What do you mean?
Padgett: We're two very different women. But we can't ... just go our separate ways and do the show. If I'm in a bad mood -- that'll affect her. We have to be like, "How are you feeling today? How's your body, your voice?"
So the physical connection is the least of it.
Padgett: We have to stay connected emotionally, too.
Davie: We get dressed together because we're physically connected at the top of the show.
So when they call "Places!" and you have to get to your first entrance onstage ...
Padgett: We're connected from the time we leave this dressing room. I like to be at "places" early.
Davie: I'm always late. [Davie smiles, shaking her head.]
Padgett: Erin is more laid back. The other day, she was like, "Don't drag me up the stairs." It's true -- I can't do that. She's having a conversation with someone and ... I'm like "ERIN!!!" in my head because I'm thinking we're gonna be late. But she knows it's not gonna take that long. So ... that's a difference between us. A big one.
Davie: I DO need to be more conscientious about being early.
Padgett: And I have to be more aware of moving when it works for her.
Padgett: It's like a relationship! Communication is key.
So you're reining in your differences?
Padgett: And celebrating them. That's what makes the characters so great. If you look at pictures of the real Daisy and Violet Hilton, one ... has this great gummy smile, and the other is definitely more ...
Padgett: Yeah ... subdued.
You're connected side-to-side onstage. Were they?
Padgett: They were connected further back. One could sit up and one lay down. Fascinating, right? But they were smart businesswomen. Good at self-promotion. Everyone feels sorry for them, "Oh, they're conjoined, will they find love?" But with what life handedthem, there was a sense of pride. I think that shines through in our show. They held their heads up high.
And what about Emily and Erin? What shows were you obsessed with as kids?
Padgett: For me, it was Andrew Lloyd Webber -- "Evita," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Phantom" -- big ... ballady ... standing in the spotlights.
Davie: I was like 13, and a tour of "Cats" came to Nashville. My mom dragged me -- I was like whateverrrrr. I wasn't into musicals, But I walked out thinking, wow, if I could do anything, I'd want to do that. My first play in high school was about the Holocaust. And that kind of sums me up a little. [She laughs.]
You're the darker one.
Davie: I loved all the painful outcasts. Grizabella in "Cats." Eponine in "Les Miz."
Padgett: Oh, my gosh. Can I tell him about "Why do I feel like I swallowed a butterfly?"
Davie: Mm hmm.
Padgett: So there's this beautiful line in the song "Feelings You've Got to Hide." The first line is "Why do I feel like I swallowed a butterfly?" I just love that. It's so sweet. Now Erin and [Director] Bill Condon have a darker, dryer sense of humor. So Erin sings, "Why do I feel like I swallowed a butterfly?" [Then, she pretends to throw up.] That was one of our first Daisy / Violet moments. I was just like . . . [feigning indignation] "OH! That's a beautiful line. How dare you?" And Bill's cracking up. We're just so different. I love that.
Davie: You have to be silly in rehearsals or you never survive.
Padgett: You do. We're ... really having fun.